Stories you can use to start conversation or to add interest to speeches or presentations

Resources for Speakers - Anecdotes About Travel, Holidays, Vacations, Flying and Airlines

Travel and Flying

Melbourne - guy working for another airline found a loophole in the Qantas computer system which allowed him to wrack up millions of frequent flier miles (He was able to 'book' passengers into the system long enough to get the miles, and then take them off before they had to board the plane) He then sold them off to mates at discounted prices. (He got 2 years)

In old days when you travelled overseas, people would give you letters of introduction and you'd have dinner with 6 new people.Today you just go to Instagram destinations.

The first air service between NZ and Australia was by flying boat, took 10 hours and cost equivalent of $6000.

Hamburg Minatur Wunderland 1:

Hamburg Minatur Wunderland 2: Google built a tiny camera to do a street view

Trap the Tourist

Gelato in hand, you're strolling down a street in Italy, when suddenly, an attractive woman starts arguing with a street vendor. A crowd gathers as he accuses her of shoplifting. To prove her innocence, she starts to strip. Once she's down to her underwear, the vendor apologizes, the woman leaves, and the onlookers disappear - and so have their wallets, thanks to a team of pickpockets working the show. This is just one of the new, inventive ways that European scam artists operate. No matter what country you're in, assume beggars are pickpockets and any scuffle is simply a distraction by a team of thieves. If you stop for any commotion or show, put your hands in your pockets before someone else does (or, even better, wear a money belt).

Trap the Tourist

Just because someone looks official doesn't mean they are. In Italy, "Tourist Police" may stop you on the street, flash their bogus badges, and ask to check your wallet for counterfeit bills or "drug money." You won't even notice some bills are missing until after they leave. Never open your door to "hotel inspectors." One waits outside while the other comes in to take a look around. While you're distracted, the first thief slips in and snags valuables off your dresser. In Vienna, official-looking women decked out in long velvet capes roam famous sights, claiming to work for the opera house and offering to sell you tickets. The tickets are fakes, and the only seats you'll be buying are the ones on the bus back to your hotel.

Private Jets

The world's most expensive private jet, an Airbus A380 owned by Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Al Saud, has an estimated cost over $500 million. Some of the special features of the jet include a two-car garage, a stable for horses and camels, and a prayer room that rotates so it always faces Mecca.

Reading passes the time

Passengers awaiting trains in 35 stations in France now find kiosks dispensing short stories to pass the time. A wide range of selections (even poetry!), in suggested reading-time lengths of one, three, and five minutes' length, can be printed out for free.

e-mountain bikes - motor assisted mt bikes - pedal assisted equivalent of a gentle tail wind. Great for out of shape/middle aged. Studies showed that riders still put in same ammount of effort but found it less draining and more enjoyable.

Hotel Soap

Hotels used to throw away the part used soap tablets left behind by guests. But now a charity called Clean The World collects them, sterilizes and reforms them and then donates them to poor communities.

High Travel

Helicopter landed on top of Mt Everest (only for 3 minutes, and to save weight, only the pilot on board, so couldn't even get out and plant a flag)

Barred From Travel

Israeli military chiefs, even those who have retired, are confined to Israel. Palestinian lawyers in most EU countries have filed war crimes charges against them for house demolitions and assassinations, which are illegal under international law

Genoa airport in Italy makes one exception to the 3 ounces of liquid rule - for pesto, which goes through a special pesto scanner.

Drinks on Plane

... once on an aircraft that was so small it managed without stewardesses. As they headed for the runway, the pilot announced that drinks service would occur straight away. "On ascent, a crate will slide down the aisle, take what you want," he said. "On descent, put the empties in the crate as it slides by."

Travel and Flying

The Unexpected Consequences of Fame: guy in Sydney became known as the Camel Man, after he saw a camel outfit that should have been locked in his luggage being paraded around Sydney airport by a baggage handler. Up till then Qantas had steadfastly and stubbornly denied stories of baggage tampering. But with the irrefutable proof on video, hundreds of others came forward with stories of baggage tampering (so now there's a big business in luggage shrink-wrapping). The Camel Man got more than his 15 minutes of fame - invited as a guest speaker; showed up at his mother's art exhibition and helped her sell most of her paintings

Tintagel Castle in Cornwall, where a C12 writer claimes King Arthur had lived. originally on 2 headlands connected by a stone bridge which has long since eroded into the sea. Now tourist group has built a new 236' footbridge, tapering to just 17cm in the center, and with a 10cm gap in middle.

Waiting For Your Bags

Houston airport getting complaints about length of time passengers had to wait at baggage carousels. So they moved them further from the gates, so passengers spent the time walking instead of waiting. Complaints stopped.

Travel and Flying

IF ALL ELSE FAILS. For $19.95, sells the Knee Defender, a set of plastic wedges that slip onto the legs of your tray table and physically prevent the seat in front of you from reclining. The site also provides a courtesy card for travelers whose seat is being blocked, which informs the person in front that reclining would compromise your knees.

Airlines are increasing size of overhead bins, not as a service to passengers, but bc want to load plane faster. Any overtime at gate costs money, so boarding staff under pressure to process quick as poss. So err on side of caution and force later boarders to put carryons in hold. (And some game the system bc these bags are not charged for, whereas checked in bags usually are.)

Travel and Flying

In general, if you find that a hotel is near an airport, keep in mind that there will be surprisingly little noise if it's to the side of a runway. The potentially bothersome noise covers a wide funnel-shaped slice of land that widens out from each end of the runway.


Wealthy Americans paying $5000 a head to go on horseback treks through the poorer parts of India, handing out food and medicine. Some condemn it as condescending and lazy way to get a moral high. But it bypasses bureaucracy and each side gets something out of it


India acronym for "I'll never do it again"

Favourite bit of travel writing: Bill Bryson Road to Little Dribbling describes atour of Blenheim Palace. "To make matters worse, somebody in our group was releasing the most dreadful silent farts. Fortunately it wasme, so I wasn't nearly as bothered as some of the others."

Behavioral economist Daniel Kahneman argues that we’re made up of two selves: our experiencing self and our remembering self. The experiencing self lives in the moment. The remembering self lives in the past. Our remembering self has a hard time telling a one-week vacation from a two-week one because, as Kahneman says, “there are no new memories added. You have not changed the story.” From the perspective of the remembering self, short and long vacations are effectively equal.

Retirement Travel

British pensioner on QE2 instead of old folks home. Had been on enough cruises to qualify for discount; so chose to live permanently aboard, different company, different scenery, different movies, nice climate vs Birmingham. (tough choice)

There's an online cruise ship tracker that shows the current positions of all the ships around the world.

Travel and Flying

Bob Jones in the first class cabin on American Airlines flight Sydney to Los Angeles "I'm 64 and I can tell you that all 3 hostesses were older than me"

Travel and Flying

The cabin crew members reveal how they deal with the passengers they dislike. As one post says: "How to say 'f*** you' in flight attendant speak? We say "Be right back."


If you visited one new beach in Australia every day, it would take over 27 years to see them all.

In 2005, security guards at Canberra's Parliament House were banned from calling people 'mate'. It lasted one day.

Travel and Flying

Virgin Airlines Australia being sued by a 51 year old hostess who was rejected in an employment application. Claimed "They're only looking for dizzy young blondes"

Google Travelling ...

Google - mashing: You can't afford to go on an exotic holiday so you hole up in your room, research convincing details of your supposed destination and Photoshop yourself into postcard scenes to convince everyone you've been

... but you can be found out

(but ubiquity of GPS enabled cell phones has made it a lot harder to pretend - anyone who really wants to know can find out exactly where on Earth you are at any time)


It was in 2004, with the launch of The CouchSurfing Project, that a verb was coined and a mainstream travel trend born. was the brainchild of Casey Fenton, an American web consultant who, after buying a bargain flight to Iceland, realised that he had no interest in spending his hard-earned greenbacks on rotting in a hotel all weekend playing Mr Tourist. After a bout of beard-scratching, Fenton alighted on the idea of using the random networking potential of the internet to spam a couple of thousand Reykjavik students, asking whether they'd put him up on their sofas and show him around their home city. The same year, Fenton launched the CouchSurfing Project. The website broadened its focus to online chat and a shared passion for travel, and with several thousand recruits joining the project's 200,000 registered users each week, is now an undisputed phenomenon.


But idea has its drawbacks - only takes one bad experience to outweigh all the good ones.

Professional Tourists

Suggest a new occupation: professional tourists with webcams to provide busy or poor clients with a cheap and environmentally friendly alternative to actually being there yourself

Travel and Flying

US discussing law to regulate size of luggage you can take as cabin bag, enforced by a template that fits over the security machine. If your bag is too big, it won't go through.

Travel and Flying

A FAMILY from Cinderhill are be reunited, after they paid $28,000 to fly their son home from Australia. Thomas Hill, 16, and his mum Lisa, have been stranded in Sydney since the beginning of April after the teenager, who suffers from Asperger's syndrome, became too frightened to travel by plane or boat. His dad Jason, of Broxtowe Rise, has been forced to fork out $28,000 to pay for a medical team to sedate him for a flight home.

Travel and Flying

US Supreme Court ruled that its legal for a Texas airline to charge a 155kg woman for 2 seats

Travel and Flying

Flying in economy is an undignified experience. The term "cattle class" doesn't even apply any more: under EU rules, cattle are entitled to between 9.04 and 13.67 sq ft in transit by air. The average economy-class passenger gets 4.01 sq ft, and, unlike that of the quadrupeds, our space is not protected by law.

Travel and Flying

United Airlines will require obese passengers bumped from full flights to purchase two seats on a subsequent flight, matching the policy of some other carriers. The change brings the Chicago-based in line with eight other airlines including Continental, Delta, JetBlue and Southwest, United spokeswoman Robin Urbanski said on Wednesday. "Last year we had 700 complaints from passengers who had to share their seats," she said. Under the new policy, obese passengers -- defined as unable to lower the arm rest and buckle a seat belt with one extension belt -- will still be reaccommodated, at no extra charge, to two empty seats if there is space available. If, however, the airplane is full, they will be bumped from the flight and may have to purchase a second ticket, at the same price as the original fare

Safety Advice

A whale-watching boat off Iceland last month where the rather blase (or perhaps confident) safety briefing included the advice: "Your lifejacket has a useful whistle, so that you can play a nice tune while you are drowning."

Travel and Flying

(Confessions of airline hostess) "When you're preparing the meals, you're given T-Sticks, which are used to check the temperature of the drinks or the food - they change colour if it's hot enough. But we just stick our fingers in. Much quicker. So if you hear a yelp from the galley, it usually means the meals are ready to go."

Travel and Flying

(Confessions of arline hostess) "A lady boarded with the biggest hair and became quite on edge when she saw she had a window seat. She told me: 'I can't sit there, I've just had my hair done and have an important meeting when we get there. If anyone opens the window, it'll be ruined.'"

Travel and Flying

Canadian family on Continental Airlines flight across Pacific complained about being seated next to a man who was wheeled in unconscious, then frothed at the mouth and died during the flight (they just put a blanket over him)

Travel and Flying

You know those oxygen masks - I don't reckon there's any air coming out them - they're just there to muffle the screams

Travel and Flying

So tell us all about your trip to Europe - what movie did they show on the plane?


Tourists looking at Niagara Falls -"Says on the plaque that they used to be 10 miles further downstream" "Wonder why they moved them?" " Closer to the hotels I suppose"

Travel and Flying

Flying is pretty safe - after all average 1 crash per 6000 passenger years - mind you, 6000 is also the average number of pieces they pick up after a crash

Travel and Flying

Even serious plane crashes more survivable than you might think. Of all passengers involved in serious accidents between 1983 and 2000, 56% survived. ("Serious" is defined by the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board as accidents involving fire, severe injury, and substantial aircraft damage.) What matters most is not where you sit or whether you've said your prayers, but how quickly you can get out. The research shows that people who have read those annoying safety briefing cards from the seatback pocket are less likely to get hurt in an emergency. They have given their brain something to work with in advance. If you wait until the plane is going down, it's probably too late. The brain, when it is frightened, is very poor at processing new information. Unbuckling the aeroplane seatbelt becomes suddenly very challenging. So figuring out how to open the overwing exit hatch is akin to doing quantum physics. The more rehearsal you've given your brain in advance (as with sports, public speaking or any other performance under stress), the better your brain will do.

Book Extracts on Travel

True Story Bro

A blonde gets on an airplane and sits down in the first class section of the plane. The stewardess rushes over to her and tells her she must move to coach because she doesn't have a first class ticket. The blonde replies, "I'm blonde, I'm smart, I have a good job, and I'm staying in first class until we reach Jamaica." The disgusted stewardess gets the head stewardess who asks the blonde to leave. The blonde yet again repeats "I'm blonde, I'm smart, I have a good job and I'm staying in first class until we reach Jamaica." The head stewardesses doesn't even know what to do at this point because they still have to get the rest of the passengers seated to take off; the blonde is causing a problem with boarding now, so the stewardess gets the copilot. The copilot goes up to the blonde and whispers in her ear. She immediately gets up and goes to her seat in the coach section. The head stewardess asks the copilot in amazement what he said to get her to move to her correct seat. The copilot replies, "I told her the front half of the airplane wasn't going to Jamaica."